USF's New Academic Year Rings in Higher Rankings

Fall semester shows positive trends across a range of student measures.


USF News


TAMPA, Fla. (Sept. 14, 2012) — Just months after ascending into the ranks of the nation’s Top 50 research universities, the University of South Florida posts sizeable gains across a range of important student measures and in the latest U.S. News & World Report rankings.


U.S. News & World Report announced this week that USF’s position on the publication’s 2013 list of the nation’s best universities, public and private, jumped 11 notches in the past year, from 181 to 170, more than any other State University System (SUS) of Florida institution in the rankings.


Counting only public institutions, USF climbed six spots, from No. 100 to No. 94.



The university also placed high on a separate list of the nation’s top 100 institutions in terms of freshman-to-sophomore year retention, posting an average retention rate of 88 percent for freshmen entering between 2007 and 2010.  Nationwide, as many as one-in-three first-year students fail to make it back for sophomore year, according to the magazine.


“In the wake of an especially challenging year to date, particularly in terms of the ongoing financial challenges confronting the university, the latest ranking is a welcome development and one deserving celebration,” said Ralph Wilcox, USF’s Provost and Executive Vice President.


“It results from our laser-like and disciplined strategic focus on student access and success, research excellence, and creative innovation, and reaffirms our commitment to those core goals. We have come a long way. But there is more that we can and must do to continue USF’s remarkable trajectory and propel it to new heights.”


A number of other positive trends were identified this fall, including a bump in total student credit hours - up 1.5 percent from academic year 2011-12.


While partly accounted for by a rise in total enrollment across the USF System, from 47,214 in 2011-12 to 47,646 this year, Vice Provost for Student Success Paul Dosal said the increase also suggests that the university’s various initiatives such as the Take 15 campaign encouraging students to accelerate their studies in order to graduate in more timely fashion are beginning to resonate.


USF has strengthened advising and counseling services, redesigned gatekeeper courses, and promoted new living and learning communities. USF also installed Degree Works (a state-of-the-art degree audit and tracking system), expanded tutoring and learning services, and otherwise enhanced the teaching and learning environment both in and out of the classroom.


As a result, four- and six-year graduation rates have increased while the total number of undergraduate and graduate degrees awarded each year has climbed by roughly 2,000.


“These achievements are a reflection of a collaborative, university-wide movement that has taken root,” said Dosal. “We have much more work to do, but a strong foundation has been established.”


He added the university’s recent creation of an Advanced Visualization Center (AVC) and Science, Math, and Research Technology (SMART) Lab, as well as expansion of the Learning Commons in the Library, should further assist USF undergraduate and graduate toward greater success at an even faster pace.


In other key student measures:


  • System-wide the number of first-time-in-college students enrolling at USF this fall totaled 3,276, a jump of 16.5 percent compared to a year ago. New transfer students also gained nearly one percent (5,002), while new graduate student enrollment swelled by 10.5 percent (2,883).
  • At USF’s Tampa campus, with fall 2012 FTIC enrollment is up 17.3 percent (2,801), new transfer students higher by 9 percent (3,906), and new graduate students up 11 percent (2,672) over last year’s levels.
  • Also on the Tampa campus, the average SAT score for incoming freshmen rose four points from last year to 1,209, helped by the record 595 new students enrolling in the Honors College with an average SAT of 1,356.
  • The mean high school grade point average for all first-year students in Tampa also climbed, to 3.94; as did the number of National Merit, National Achievement and National Hispanic Scholarship recipients choosing USF - 43 - a gain of 13 compared to fall 2011.
  • USF student body is increasingly diverse. The number of incoming Tampa students identifying themselves as African-American increased by 24 percent; as Hispanic increased by 17 percent, and as Asian increased by nearly 13 percent.
  • International student enrollment rose 22 percent, with 2,064 students from overseas enrolling in USF.


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